The Green Ripper by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of my favorites in the series because it forces Travis McGee to go all-in on a dark journey to avenge the murder of Gretel, the woman he fell in love with at the end of The Empty Copper Sea. The last quarter of this novel features one of MacDonald's best climactic concluding sequences. Before we get there, however, we start with the love struck McGee and the quick death of Gretel, gone by the end of chapter two. What follows is a brief investigation by McGee and Meyer, which prompts two different teams of federal-ish agents (one bogus, one real) to investigate McGee and Meyer. It all dead ends and a despondent McGee is told by everyone to give up and move on. McGee's response is to drop out of his life, which includes sending Meyer a letter with instructions about what to do if/when McGee doesn't come back, and to chase down one sliver of a clue. The middle has McGee assume a fake identity and infiltrate the militant wing of the Church of Apocrypha. At first McGee is locked up, but eventually the terrorists start trusting him and he begins training with them, which gives him the chance to learn each of their strengths and weaknesses. MacDonald jumps right to the extended conclusion and over the next fifty or so pages McGee battles with and proceeds to (still three books left in the series, so not a spoiler alert) eliminate all eleven terrorists using rocks, knives, guns, grenades, and probably a head butt or two. And thus, Gretel avenged, McGee is healed and ready to return to his houseboat moored in slip F-18, Bahia Mar marina, Fort Lauderdale, and resume his old life as a beach bum and salvage consultant. MacDonald delivers on all levels and you needn't be familiar with the rest of the series to enjoy this because it also works as stand alone thriller.
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